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Doctor vs. Hospital Malpractice

DoctorWhen you have been the victim of medical malpractice, very often it can be difficult to know who to hold accountable. Sometimes, malpractice is directly the fault of the medical professional most involved. However, sometimes the fault belongs with more than one person, and it may be most beneficial to file suit against the hospital or practice, as opposed to just the doctor. Researching the pros and cons before filing suit is the best option.

Doctor or Nurse’s Malpractice

The bulk of medical malpractice cases filed are against a doctor, nurse or other licensed medical professional. Normally, these claims are to do with the quality of care (or lack thereof) received from that medical professional, or from that person’s staff, for whom California law holds the doctor responsible. While not everything staff does during working hours is grounds to hold the doctor liable, negligence is, more often than not, held to be the ultimate responsibility of the employer-doctor.

The most common types of malpractice that would be best served by bringing suit against the doctor are those that have to do with immediate care. For example, one of the most common types of medical malpractice suits has to do with childbirth injuries, either to the mother or the newborn - such a case would be directed at the person who was immediately responsible (at least allegedly): the doctor or midwife, or in some cases, the physician’s assistant, nurse or anesthesiologist.

Hospital Malpractice and Vicarious Liability

When hospitals are held liable for malpractice, it is usually in reference to the failure of an administrative function: for example, allegations of negligent hiring would be leveled against a hospital, not a doctor or medical practice. One of the very few times that a hospital may wind up being held liable for the acts of a doctor or other staff member, rather than its own acts, is under the doctrine of vicarious liability. Like doctors with their staff, hospitals are responsible for the intentional torts of their employees. California law holds that employers are liable for actions committed “during the scope of employment” that are required or related to that employment. For example, an anesthesiologist who administered double the dose of anesthetic required to a patient would almost certainly be guilty of malpractice, but because the hospital employed him, it could be said he was an agent, acting on the hospital’s behalf.

Be advised that vicarious liability is only appropriate for employees of a hospital or larger company. Many doctors in California are independent contractors, which means that hospitals are not directly liable for their actions - independent contractors are legally acting in their own interests, as opposed to acting as an agent for the hospital.

A Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help

Mounting a medical malpractice lawsuit is difficult and confusing, but it can be made easier from the get-go if you have knowledgeable legal representation. The skilled San Jose medical malpractice attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. are happy to answer any questions you have, and offer advice on how best to get you and your family back on the right track. Contact our office today to schedule a free initial appointment. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of Santa Clara, San Benito, San Mateo, Alameda and Monterey.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.